October 2020

Mazel & Mishagoss: How to Decide Which Family You’ll “Bubble-Up” With

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Relying on Zoom to hang out with someone else’s mishpachah is not going to satisfy us for much longer. Let’s face it — Jews MUST kibbitz and schmooze together in person. How else can we a) Smell the fresh pears hanging in the Klein’s sukkah or the latkes frying in the Silvers’ kitchen? b) Judge that halucious new sofa the Steinbergs just bought? Or c) Snoop through the Horowitz’s medicine cabinet when using their bathroom? The answer is forming a “Covid Bubble” or a “Quaranteam” with another family who is deemed safe and healthy to be around.

We’re already familiar with this concept. It’s just like joining a Havurah group from temple or shul. Only instead of becoming obsessed with the three F’s (Family/Food/Fun) we’ll fixate on staying germ free. But unlike a Havurah, your synagogue won’t place you into compatible “Bubbles” based on the ages of your kids or if the adults play mahjong. So of course, Jews must designate an official Family Matchmaker because we cannot decide these things for ourselves. You’ll be happy to know I volunteered for this new position. If you’re upset with whom I pair your clan with, you can complain or kvetch to someone else called “Lament-a, Vent-a Yenta.” But if you’re pleased with your matched family, leave a nice review with “Content-a Yenta.” I’ll get a raise.

Being a creative event-planner who puts on elaborately themed Bar Mitzvahs and simchas, I also provide fun activities for all my matched “Bubble Families.” I pour bubble bath in their jacuzzies, lay bubble wrap on the floor for stomping, and provide Bazooka Bubble gum as a party favor. Okay, okay, I digress. Here’s a concrete example of how I would evaluate another family to see if they’re compatible with my own large and neurotic household:

Pros of the Lieberman family

  • They just got a super cute fluffy kitten!
  • Mrs. Leiberman is a great cook and makes the fluffiest matzo balls!
  • Mr. Leiberman likes sports and will organize softball games between the families!
  • They have a teenage daughter (Ruby) who babysits!
  • They have a swimming pool!
  • They share our belief system about only singing one chorus of Dayenu on Passover!
  • They have a Netflix account so we can binge watch Shtisel using their account!

Cons of the Lieberman family

  • Anyone who pets or “oohs and ahhs” at their mediocre scruffy kitten must clean the stinky litter box.
  • Mrs. Leiberman uses only full fat cream, butter, cheese, and beef in her recipes and thinks “Low-Cal” is a term for people who reside in the valleys of California.
  • When a stray softball grazes your child’s hand, instead of offering ice and bandages, Mr. Leiberman gruffly shouts, “Shake it off! Would Moses cry?”
  • Ruby sneaks out to see her boyfriend in the middle of the night. (The boyfriend is social distancing … with his entire high school cheerleading squad.)
  • They don’t heat their pool and lackadaisical Ruby (who claims to babysit) doesn’t supervise her younger siblings because she’s texting the boyfriend…so they pee in the shallow end.
  • They may shorten Dayenu, but they have an entire two-hour long comedy routine (that’s not very funny) revolving around the prophet Elijah and their broken doorbell.
  • They speak fluent Hebrew, so they turn off the subtitles for Shtisel!

Never get hurt feelings if the family you’re matched with declines. It doesn’t mean you have bad breath, or your kids have too many temper tantrums. It usually comes down to the fact that your Cons outweigh your Pros. For example, the Lieberman family (above) politely turned me down when I asked them to Bubble with us. What chutzpa! When I was certain they weren’t looking, I snuck a peek at their own Pro/Cons list and saw that under “Cons” someone had written, “The mother (Stephanie) is a nosy snoop, her brisket is dry, she’s judgy with our daughter Ruby, and she makes crucial decisions using dumb Pro/Con charts. Plus, she’ll probably end up writing about us in her column at L’CHAIM magazine!”

Stephanie D. Lewis appears in the comedy section of The Huffington Post and writes at OnceUponYourPrime.com

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